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Lemon Chess Pie

Down home delicious lemon chess pie with tender pastry

National Pi Day

If the lemon in meringue pie is like golden transparent glass then the lemon in chess pie is like creamy opaque mosaic. This pie tastes like grandmother’s window-cooling goodness. Traditional southern pie, it’s made with simple ingredients on hand; sugar, butter, lemon, eggs. It doesn’t require meringue or whipped cream but you could serve it with ice cream or lemon cream if you like. Toss a few berries on each plate when served. The pie crust is baked before the pie so it stays crisp and tender. Nothing fancy here but it’s so good you’ll want to bake two while you’re at it. It doesn’t take any more time to make two because there’s no fruit peeling, custard cooking or layer making. Along with some dinner, I took the extra pie to my friend Emily who is recuperating from knee surgery.

2011 AniversaRecipe -Southern Pecan Pie

Recipe: Lemon Chess Pie

Prep Time: 15 Minutes | Inactive Time: 2 Hours | Cook Time: 2 Hours | Yield: 1 Deep Dish Pie | Level: Easy


  • Buttermilk-Lemon-Chess-Pie-wet-ingredients1 Pie Pastry for 9 1/2-inch deep dish plate
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp yellow cornmeal
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • 5 eggs
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 1 Tbsp lemon zest
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • dash kosher salt

1 Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2 Line a 9 1/2-inch deep dish pie plate with the pastry and crimp the edges. Line the pastry with parchment or foil and fill with pie weights.

3 Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until it begins to brown. Remove the paper and weights and continue to bake for 15-20 more minutes. Cool completely.

Buttermilk-Lemon-Chess-Pie-dry-ingredients4 In the meantime, combine the sugars, cornmeal and flour in a medium bowl.

5 In a large bowl, whip the eggs with a whisk. Add the buttermilk, butter, lemon zest and juice, vanilla and salt. Whisk to combine.

6 Slowly whisk in the dry ingredients then pour into the cooled pie shell. Bake at 350 degrees for 60-70 minutes or until edges are set and the center slightly jiggles.

7 Cool. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.


Buttermilk – Substitute 1 tablespoon of vinegar plus enough milk to make 2/3 cup and let stand 5 minutes.

Lemon Zest – Depending on the zester, make fine zest by running your knife through the zest before adding to the filling.

Serve stand alone or with whipped or lemon cream and berries. A small scoop of ice cream also works well.

Dish Designer

  • Exchange homemade pie crust with good quality purchased crust for speedy prep.
  • Exchange yellow for white cornmeal.

Inspiration – Bon Appitite

Cook with Sauces
Written by
Photographs by Helen Horton
Updated: March 14, 2012

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4 Responses to Lemon Chess Pie

  1. Audrey March 26, 2012 at 6:55 pm #

    So many people loved this pie. The biggest compliment we got was that even though we gave them enough to share, they ate it themselves after one bite. This is unique and fun.

  2. Anna April 8, 2012 at 4:22 pm #

    We made this for our Easter dinner and it was delicious! Thank you for another great recipe!

    • helenhorton April 8, 2012 at 9:47 pm #

      So glad you enjoyed it.

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